Motorsport

Those magnificent men

AYRTON SENNA (Brazil)

(World champion in 1988, 1990 & 1991)

The Pele of motorsport, he was F1's superstar and the fastest driver of his era. Clever and charismatic, he virtually rewrote the rules of the sport, constantly experimenting and pushing the car to its limits every time he raced. Born into a wealthy family, Senna never needed to race for money, but his passion for the sport began when his dad presented him a go-kart when he was only four years old.

Senna came like a whiff of fresh air at a time when drivers often tended to be over-cautious while overtaking.

With frequent accidents and deaths on track, they had good reason to do so. But Senna thought differently.

He made his debut with Toleman in 1984 and showed his first spark of genius when he finished second to Alain Prost (McLaren) in heavy rain.

Senna moved to Williams in 1994 but died in a fatal accident in the third race of the season at Imola (San Marino Grand Prix) at the age of 34.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Germany)

(World champion in 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004)

Statistically speaking, he is the most successful driver in F1 history. With his supreme natural talent and a matching racing brain, Schumacher is widely regarded as the most complete F1 driver ever. He was utterly dominant during his stint with Ferrari when he won five world titles in succession.

However, questions have been raised by many with regard to his sportsmanship. Still, his work ethic and superb fitness stood out. He worked hard for his team and rallied his teammates around him.

He retired in 2006, but returned to the circuit in 2010 with Mercedes. However, he seems to have lost his old touch and is now eighth in the drivers' standings this season.

JUAN MANUEL FANGIO (Argentina)

(World champion in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 & 1957)

His rotund figure, powerful forearms, timid exterior and the small reedy voice belied the fact that Fangio was one of the best drivers on the planet ever.

‘El Maestro', as he was popularly known, was the first true great of F1, winning five World titles — a record that stood for five decades before it was broken by Michael Schumacher. The Argentine drove in just 51 Grands Prix, yet he started from the front row in 48 of them!

It's true that Fangio often had the best cars — Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari — but his awesome driving ability was never in doubt.

Fangio came up from humble beginnings. He was a mechanic at 11 and spent nearly four decades in that trade.

And quite significantly, he won all his world titles after the age of 40.

ALAIN PROST (France)

(World champion in 1985, 1986, 1989 & 1993)

As a teenager, he was into wrestling, roller-skating and football, a sport in which he thought he would turn a professional one day. As a 14-year-old, he took interest in karting during a family holiday in southern France. He then left school in 1974 to become a full-time racer.

His maiden F1 season, in 1980, was a mixed one.

He finished in the points four times but also had several accidents, breaking his wrist in one and suffering a concussion in another.

But five years later Prost, nicknamed ‘The Professor' for his cerebral approach and economical style of driving that often ended with a late race challenge, won back-to-back drivers' titles (1985, 1986).

He has four in all, and only Fangio and Schumacher have won more.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 12:19:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/motorsport/those-magnificent-men/article2556276.ece

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